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Meet our seminarians: Michael Parr


Michael Parr Pilot photo/ George Martell, Office for Vocations

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Home Parish: St. Joseph, Wakefield. Seminary: St. John’s Seminary. High School: Austin Preparatory School. College: St. Anselm College. Hobbies: Playing and writing music

When was the first time you thought of priesthood?

The first time I admitted a thought of priesthood was in the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi during a Mass for the Boston Pilgrims during World Youth Day 2000.

What were major Catholic activities you participated in prior to the seminary?

I’ve been involved with a number of different activities including World Youth Day 2000 in Rome. In my parish and throughout all of my schooling, I’ve done student-to-student retreat work and participated in the Catholic Leadership Institute programs. Using my gift of music I have been a part of a number of liturgical music groups, including the St. Anselm College Choir with which I was able to sing at St. Peter’s in Rome.

Who influenced/inspired you to priesthood? Please explain.

The example of Pope John Paul II, the Great, parish priests like Father David Barnes, and the monks of St. Anselm Abbey have led me to this point of discernment. I came within five feet of the pope at World Youth Day in 2000 and there was something to be said about his simple presence which allowed Christ through. Father Barnes has always been a generous and devoted priest to his parishioners, which is inspiring. The monks of the Abbey were a great example of “Ora et Labora,” prayer and work, that integrated God into one’s daily life.

What would you say to a young man who thinks he may have a vocation?

Pray about it. Attend Mass as often as possible and in the words of St. Benedict: “Listen, with the ear of your heart.” Find a priest to talk to about it. Attend a retreat or two. If you are in college, take theology courses. Ask Mary, our most patient intercessor, to pray for you.

Please tell us, what are some of the most important parts of discernment?

I found the use of a formal structure of prayer helpful. I began a subscription to Magnificat and let that begin to structure my prayer. Going to daily Mass is important to listen for God and to get a rhythm of a life in prayer. The rosary is a tool for encountering Jesus that is also important to take up during the week. Reading the Bible, the Catechism [of the Catholic Church] and the works of great spiritual doctors is also important.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I am a certified emergency medical technician and I was a lieutenant on my college rescue team. I have also served as a volunteer auxiliary fire fighter in my home town. I also knit.

What activities would you recommend in order to foster a culture of vocations.

I think a culture of vocations requires silence. Everywhere we turn we have cell phones, iPods, computers, television and radio all struggling for our attention. These influences can distract us and pull us away from being good Christians, never mind hide our vocation. These things seem to be a necessary item for many these days, but I advise against engaging too heavily in them. Particularly high school and college-age students considering a vocation... ‘‘disconnect to connect.” God is present in the depths of our hearts and the stimulation of media keeps us outside of ourselves more often than not.

Did anyone invite you to consider priesthood? Please explain.

I have had a non-Catholic friend, a seminarian, a parish priest and a monk all tell me at different times that they thought I could be a priest. All of these remind me that God works in many different ways. The fact that these suggestions have stayed with me is a gift.

What is your day like in the seminary?

A seminary day begins early. Personal prayer, community morning prayer, and Mass are the beginning of the day. It is the best way anyone could begin a day. You are anchored in listening to God and receive a message from God in the readings for Mass and in his eucharistic gift of himself. It is a reminder to carry Christ with me throughout the day.

How does the priest best follow in the footsteps of the Apostles?

The priest will follow the Apostles if he points to Jesus. This means acting in love, even when it is a hard and unpopular thing to do. The way, the truth, and the life are a narrow way, but there is infinite light that beacons to all of us through it.

Anything else?

It is not always easy to know one’s vocation. Priesthood, in particular, is counter-cultural. Discerning one’s vocation is what God desires. Give yourself to him.

The Pilot, in cooperation with the Office of Vocations, is publishing a series of brief profiles of the men preparing for the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Boston. For other profiles or if you think God may be calling you to a vocation to the priesthood or religious life, visit the Vocations Office Web site at www.VocationsBoston.org.

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